Thursday, September 23, 2010


Given the Democrats' complete capitulation on Bush's tax cuts for the rich, I think today was a perfect day for this expression of frustration -- though it's got me thinking about what we may have done wrong the past two years:

Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere's anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing the administration of "hippie punching."

... [The] tension burst out into the open when [Susan] Madrak [of Crooks and Liars] directly asked Axelrod: "Have you ever heard of hippie punching?" That prompted a long silence from Axelrod.

"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day." ...

In the past, I've argued that the Obama White House screwed up in its battles with Republicans by not staking out positions very far to the left -- for example, demanding a stimulus twice the amount Paul Krugman was recommending -- so the "centrist compromise" would still be something genuinely progressive.

But I'm thinking now that maybe I was wishing for that from the wrong people. Maybe we lefties were the ones who should have been making demands very, very far to the left of even what we would have been satisfied with (which we know was far to the left of what the White House wanted). That way, the White House could have the exquisite satisfaction of punching us hippies, thwarting our non-negotiable demands for, say, a health-care system run by Castroite Cubans and financed by a 99% tax on all investment income over $1 million a year, or the death penalty for anyone caught engaging in mortgage fraud.

Maybe if we all agreed on that strategy we'd have been rebuffed and punished, as the administration, calling us crazy, settled for a health-care system that "merely" had a public option, or a mortgage program that actually helped some struggling mortgagees, or a stimulus program that actually created enough jobs and wealth to get unemployment to tick down a tenth or two of a percent, while concluding with satisfaction that we crazy hippies had been well and truly punched.

It's just a thought.

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